‘So You Want To Impress …’New cookbook by local chef Steven Topple makes entertaining easy with simple, elegant recipes based on the seasons
VAIL – So many people dining at The Wildflower were asking Chef de Cuisine Steven Topple for recipes that he decided to combine his creations into his very first cookbook – “So You Want To Impress!”Topple loves throwing dinner parties, but he knows how daunting it can be, especially for the at-home cook. “So You Want To Impress!” is a simple guide to cooking elegant meals with entertaining in mind. He’s divided the book into breakfast, lunch and vegetarian recipes, and then maps out three-course menus using recipes and ingredients specific to the four seasons.
“I am a great believer in seasonal cooking,” Topple said. “You don’t want to eat asparagus in the winter, for example.”Topple’s seasonal chapters include samples of three-course menus. The dinners are intended to leave guests satisfied – not sleepy from too much food. One of his winter menus begins with curried butternut squash soup, moves into roast beef Wellington with horseradish potato and red wine sauce and ends with a flour-less chocolate fondant cake.”The key to an impressive menu is balance,” Topple said. “You can’t cook with too much butter in the first course and use butter in the second course and then serve a rich dessert. You want your guests to leave happy.”
Topple intentionally included recipes that are approachable. The ingredients are easy to find and the cooking techniques are straight forward. In fact, much of Topple’s recipe experimentation happened in his small Avon apartment on top of two electric burners. The chef doesn’t even have an oven.”I don’t want people to spend all day in the kitchen,” Topple said. “If you’re having a dinner party, you want to be with your guests. Most of these recipes take a maximum two hours from start to finish for three courses.”One recipe Topple really likes is the spinach and mushroom tortellini with tomato and pesto sauce in the vegetarian chapter. Topple’s vegetarian parents inspired many of the dishes.
“It’s a very unique dish,” Topple said. “It uses wonton skins you can buy at the store instead of homemade pasta, so it’s real easy to make.””So You Want To Impress!” was published by AuthorHouse, one of the world’s leading self-publishing companies. It took Topple about six months to compile the book’s content, but he said he’s been working on the recipes for three years. Topple hired friend and colleague Sebastian Maturana to shoot the photographs, one for each recipe, and wrote all the book’s editorial content himself.”I learned a lot about deadlines,” Topple said. “I would work all day at the Wildflower, come home and sit down at the computer and begin writing recipes for the book.”
Topple said he has always wanted to write about the food that he cooks. Cooking day in and day out, he’s always thinking about food and recipes.”As a chef, you’re always working toward trying to make yourself known for who you are and what you do,” Topple said. “Having a cookbook is a huge honor.”
Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14640, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado